Environment Missouri opposes SB 230/HB 488, blocking local climate action

Environment Missouri's testimony opposing HB 488/SB230, preempting cities from electrifying and blocking local climate action

Wind turbines in a field
Wind turbines- image by Esa Niemelä from Pixabay
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Chairmen and members of the Committee,

As the Director of Environment Missouri, a citizen-based environmental advocacy group, I speak on the behalf of our members across the state in opposing HB 488/SB 230. If passed, this bill would block local communities from taking action to decarbonize buildings and tap into the full potential of clean renewable energy. These bills strip local elected officials’ responsibility of setting building codes for their municipality, alongside the energy needs and interests of their constituents. In the interest of advancing clean energy in Missouri and supporting local control of elected officials responsibilities, we urge you to oppose HB 488/SB 230.

All Missourians  need clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and a liveable climate. In a greener, healthier world, we would conserve more, use the energy we have more wisely and efficiently and rely only on sources of energy that are clean, renewable and leave less environmental damage in their wake. As you likely know, communities all over Missouri are already taking steps in that direction. Our biggest cities in the state, Kansas City and St. Louis, have committed to 100% renewable energy targets. Also, Missouri is the home of the first wind powered community in the United States in Rock Port. 

As Missouri’s electric grid gets greener every year, municipal leaders recognize that they need to be planning for the future now. These leaders know that efficient, electric technologies have come a long way in the past twenty years. Today, electric heat pumps can heat and cool homes more efficiently and cheaply than gas or oil furnaces. Induction cook stoves heat food more efficiently, more safely and cause less indoor air-pollution than stoves that burn methane gas. In fact, installing fully electric systems in homes and commercial buildings now makes financial sense for owners in almost all new construction.

Meanwhile the urgency of switching off dirty and dangerous fuels like methane gas have only intensified. Natural gas is a volatile source of energy, and is dangerous not only for our homes and businesses as well as our environment, which can be seen as increased  intensity of flooding in the state, destroying property and damaging our important harvests.

The benefits of decarbonizing buildings coupled with the urgency of climate change have convinced many localities to explore the tools at their disposal — including ordinances and building codes — to make sure that the homes and office buildings of tomorrow don’t set us up with the same problems that plague yesterday’s buildings: the environmental, health and consumer hazards of directly combusting fossil fuels in our homes and businesses for heating, cooling and cooking.

Local action to take control of a community’s energy future and the widespread recognition that we can power our society with 100 percent renewable sources have put the fossil fuel industry on the defensive. The gas industry is pushing versions of this preemption bill all around the country. HB 488/SB 230  is part of a coordinated effort by the gas industry and large utility companies to keep Missouri hooked on methane gas and hamper Missouri’s transition to clean renewable energy. 

If passed, these bills would slow down the deployment of clean energy technologies, prevent localities from leading the way on building decarbonization and keep Missourians hooked on fossil fuels — even if there is strong local support for climate action and clean energy. 

Our cities, counties and towns need a range of tools to prepare their locality for the future. HB 488/SB 230 would take away some of those tools by revoking local decision-makers’ ability to restrict the use of fossil fuels such as methane gas in our homes and businesses. This bill would completely undo every local energy incentive program while stripping locally elected officials of their duty to set building codes for their district.

We urge you to oppose HB 488/SB 230 and instead choose a path that gives Missourians a resounding say in how we power our homes, businesses and communities. Our local decision-makers know how to best meet the needs of their residents and should have the authority to pass policies that reflect and act on their community’s interests, needs and values. When states block communities from passing their own laws, they silence local democracy and hurt community health and the environment.

We respectfully urge you to vote no on SB 230. Thank you Chairman Cierpiot and members of the Committee.


Bridget Sanderson


Environment Missouri


Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

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